The Interstate 275 Highway bike path behind the Woodsprings Suites Hotel, 22000 Haggerty Road, will soon be the site of a new trailhead in Farmington Hills.

The Interstate 275 Highway bike path behind the Woodsprings Suites Hotel, 22000 Haggerty Road, will soon be the site of a new trailhead in Farmington Hills.

Photo by Deb Jacques

New trailhead coming to I-275 bike path in Farmington Hills

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published July 20, 2020


FARMINGTON HILLS — Four years ago, while driving home past the historical David Simmons property, Farmington Hills Special Services Deputy Director Bryan Farmer had an idea. What if the city could build a trailhead on the property and provide access to the trail along the Interstate 275 highway?

Four years, and a lot of hard work and hurdles later, that’s exactly the plan for the property.

Farmington Hills City Council members unanimously supported the decision July 13 to enter into an agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation for the construction, maintenance and operation of a trailhead and park at the Woodsprings Suites Hotel planned unit development site, 22000 Haggerty Road.

“I remember when this first started,” Councilmember Ken Massey said July 13. “Our conversation was (that) this was going to take a long time, because it’s dealing with MDOT, and it’s very nice to see we’re moving forward with this. I think we should all be proud.”

“I think it’s going to be an excellent addition to our beautiful parks and recreation opportunities for our citizens and visitors to experience,” Councilmember Michael Bridges added July 13.

In April 2019, the City Council approved in a 5-2 vote the planned unit development for a four-story, 122-room Woodsprings Suites Hotel, which included the restoration of the historical David Simmons house, as well as parking and pedestrian access to the bike path — named the Hills 275 Trailhead —located along the highway.

With the green light to begin constructing the trailhead and placing amenities contingent upon when the hotel lays concrete for its parking lot, Farmer said he feels accomplished and relieved to be at this point of the project.

“We didn’t know if it was ever going to happen, because the Federal Highway Administration, to have them agree with this idea, it’s a pretty big thing. For finally (City) Council to say yes and MDOT send us the agreement to sign simply feels pretty good.”

Farmer is more excited about the bigger picture and the opportunities this trailhead may open up for others in the city and across the state. According to MDOT Transportation Planner Julie Edwards, this trailhead is one of, if not the first trailhead along a federal highway bike path. Farmer said special language had to be crafted by MDOT and the FHWA to allow the project to move forward.

“We’re not exactly sure it’s the first, but we like to say it’s one of a very few non-motorized trails that’s located on a freeway right-of-way,” Edwards said. “There may be a couple others (in the state), and we do think this is the first one, but there’s really no way to confirm it.”

The trail stretches from Flat Rock to Novi and connects to other trails in West Bloomfield, along Michigan 5 Highway and beyond.

“Connectivity is the goal. The future vision with trails in Farmington Hills is how do we create a larger trail system that is interconnected? What that requires is planning,” Farmer said. “I’d like to eventually see trails connecting The Hawk to Heritage Park to the Hills 275 Trailhead.

“It’s going to take time, but this is a great start to providing residents a great opportunity to go a little further than just where our sidewalks are (and) connecting to a larger trail system. It’s just the beginning, I feel, in terms of what we can do to develop connectivity.”

Amenities at the trailhead park will include benches, a water filling station — with water provided by the hotel — bike racks, a bike repair station, a kiosk and an archway with signage similar to that at Riley Skate Park. Hotel restrooms will be accessible for trailhead visitors.

The city’s portion of the project is under $20,000, Farmer said, and comes from the Friends of the Park nonprofit. The hotel will be paying for the concrete and fencing. A few parking spaces at the hotel will be designated for trailhead visitors.

Local artist Molly McNeese will be providing artwork — different sculptural elements like sprockets, bikes and more — for the trailhead signage and other amenities.

“It’s an entry point. When people step into that trailhead, they’re going to see a little bit of what Farmington Hills is about,” Farmers said.

Farmer doesn’t know the trailhead’s official opening date. He said it’s dependent upon a few factors, such as COVID-19 and the weather, but he anticipates that the trailhead will be open this fall or next spring, though as soon as concrete is laid, the trail technically will be open and accessible, only without amenities.

Farmington Brewing Co. has agreed to host a taste-testing night and to brew a beer that will eventually be named after the trailhead.

“I’m really glad. We didn’t have a trailhead on that trail before, and this provides an opportunity for some people to access it now for recreational purposes,” Edwards said. “This trail provides a lot of connectivity to a lot of other trails, and we kind of consider it a sport for the metro trail system. It’s really good to get a trailhead on it.”